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Wisconsin bill aims to ban high fees for jail phone calls

31December 2021

MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin Democratic lawmakers are proposing a law that would stop county jails from charging excessive fees for phone calls.

The bill would cap jail call charges to the same rates that national prepaid wireless telephone providers charge, Wisconsin Public Radio reported. It comes after a report from the Prison Policy Initiative found that some Wisconsin counties charges over $14 for a 15-minute phone call.

Rep. Samba Baldeh, a Democrat supporting the bill, said those charges amount to making a profit on inmates who have not been convicted of any crimes and cuts them off from friends and family.

“They are innocent until proven guilty,” Baldeh said. “But at this point, they are treated as if they are guilty.”

The bill also prohibits jails from charging for calls or video conferences between inmates and their attorneys.

The Prison Policy Initiative, an organization that advocates to reduce the number of people who are jailed and imprisoned, found that Polk, Green and LaCrosse counties all charged over $14 for a 15-minute phone call from their county jails.

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